Lynn Kanuka (middle), Pan Am Athlete Services with athletes at the media conference

Bear Mountain Resort is gearing up for some exciting competition on Saturday when 117 athletes from 12 countries will take on a challenging course for the Pan Am Cross Country Cup.  The annual race is in conjunction with the NACAC Cross Country Championships. The participating countries are Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

Teams will compete in four races – two U20 and two senior races, male and female. The U20 men’s race will be over an 8km distance, and the women athletes will run 6km. Both the senior men and women will run 10km.

Canada and the USA are fielding the largest teams each with 24 athletes competing.

For Canada Geneviève Lalonde, Natasha Wodak, and Maria Bernard-Galea lead the senior women’s team and John Gay, Connor Black and Jean-Simon Desgagnes are on the senior men’s side. Lalonde is the two-time defending Canadian Cross Country Champion and Wodak set a new 10K Pan Ams Games record at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru last year. Gay and Black qualified for the 2020 Pan Am XC Cup by having strong performances at the 2019 Cross Country Championships.

“We are very excited to be competing on home turf and in a such a high performance sport environment like Greater Victoria,” says Hilary Stellingwerff, coach of the Pan Am Canadian team. We have very strong teams in all the categories, with our top athletes racing and contending for medals, individually and as teams.”

On Team USA is Grace Graham Zamudio who has a 10K track best of 33:46.98 and Sarah Pease who was 4th at the 2020 USATF XC Championships in 36:39. The men’s side is led by Anthony Rotich who won the USATF XC Championships in January, and Dillon Maggard and Nick Hauger who finished 4th and 5th respectively. Both Canada and USA also have a strong U20 field.

Peru are sending 18 runners, Mexico, 15, and Brazil and Puerto Rico, 12 each. Trinidad and Tobago will have five athletes, Bahamas, four; Columbia, three; Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, and Panama two each, and one athlete from El Salvador.

Mexico has always been one of the stronger teams in the competition’s history and this year they have two athletes that ran in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.  Arian Iveth Chia Hernandez and Cesar Gomez, both 18 years old are National record holders in the 2km Steeplechase.

In addition to the Pan Am XC Cup there are a series of races that will be run on the same course.

Exciting action will be seen in the Can Am Masters Challenge – where Canada and the USA will vie for the Farquharson-Glavin Cup over 5km. “Anyone over 30 can run the race and count in the scoring against the US. For the average runner there are few opportunities to race for your country,” says General Manager, Bruce Deacon. The race will see multiple age class winner 79-year-old Herb Phillips competing as well as Mark Cryderman who recently won the masters title at the Cedar 12K in Nanaimo.

The Can Am Masters Cross Country Challenge was established in 1977 by Canadian Don Farquharson. “This dual meet was held every year from 1977 to 2007, except in 2000 – the year Don Farquharson passed away,” added Deacon. Canada leads the challenge series over the USA 18 – 14 and is undefeated on Canadian soil.

The Pacific Northwest Youth Cup has over 70 participants from clubs in British Columbia. Top podium contender will be Jaiveer Tiwana from Coastal Track Club in Surrey, the U18 Canadian Cross Country champion, and for the women, Victoria’s Delaney Chan, who placed 10th in the Canadian Nationals.

The Nations Cup will see 175 kids from 22 schools run a 1.6km loop. Students from grades K – 2, 3 – 5 and 6 – 8 will start in waves. Each school has been designated a Pan Am country and will run in the country’s team colours. Kicking off the races will be the 5km Community Race comprising three loops (1k, 2k, 2k) of the course.

“The Victoria organizing committee has done an incredible job putting together a program that integrates the community, youth and top athletes. This will be an amazing opportunity for spectators to cheer on Canada’s best, as well as aspiring runners in the community at this beautiful venue in Bear Mountain,” commented Stellingwerff.

The main races from 10 am until 1:30 pm will be Live Streamed on CBC – there is a link on the Pan Am website:

https://panamxccup2020.com/

or go directly to:

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1699429955669

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9WNdNwzsUw&feature=youtu.be

For Information on teams and athletes in the 2020 Pan Ams Cross Country Cup:

https://panamxccup2020.com/news/media/

Natasha Wodak – seen here at the Harriers Pioneer 8k in January – set a new 10K Pan Am record in Peru last year. Photo by Joseph Camilleri.

With just over a week to go until Greater Victoria hosts the 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Championships, 14 countries have confirmed their attendance to run the challenging course at Bear Mountain Resort, Langford on Saturday, February 29. The countries are Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, United States and Venezuela.

One hundred and twenty six (126) athletes will compete in four races – two U20 and two senior races, male and female. The U20 men’s race will be over an 8km distance, and the women athletes will run 6km. Both the senior men and women will run 10km. The course features much more challenging terrain than previous versions of the event.

“This is going to be an amazing competition featuring some extremely fit athletes from around our hemisphere,” says event General Manager, Bruce Deacon. “This will be one of the best cross country meets in BC’s history and definitely not an event that running fans will want to miss.”

Canada and the USA are fielding strong teams – both 24 strong – featuring the country’s best cross country runners. Peru are sending 18 runners, Mexico, 15, and Brazil and Puerto Rico, 12 each. Trinidad and Tobago will have five athletes, Bahamas, four; Columbia, three; Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Panama and Venezuela two each, and one athlete from El Salvador.

For Canada Geneviève Lalonde, Natasha Wodak, John Gay and Connor Black lead the seniors team and Sadie Sigfstead and Kevin Robertson represent the U20s.

In addition to the national competition at the Pan Am XC Cup there are a series of races that are open to the public.

The 5km Community Race kicks off the day’s festival of running where participants will be able to run the championship course which including hills, mud and a sand pit!  The Nations Cup for students in grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8 has a schools challenge with schools being designated a country and they run in t-shirts with the country’s team colours. For older students – grades 9 – 12 – there is the Pacific Northwest Youth Cup where teams of five boys and five girls can score points to determine the fastest city team.  Canada and USA rivalry in cross country running will be seen up close at the Can Am Masters Challenge. Canada leads the challenge series over the USA 18 – 14 and is undefeated on Canadian soil.